Power consumers in the state are up for some bad news! They may face power tariff hike in the near future, says state Power Minister Nitin Raut.
Raut also demanded Rs 5,000 crore financial assistance from the central government. The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) had reduced power tariff for the consumers in March this year. This was done for the first time in 15 years, giving some relief to consumers.
Criticising the package announced by the central government, Raut slammed the provisions regarding the power sector in the package. “The package announced by the central government will not really help the power sector. The centre has announced a 90,000 crore package for the power sector of the country. But the centre is planning to give this amount as loan through the Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation. Generally, such loans are charged with a 7 to 8 per cent rate of interest. Already the state power distribution company MAHADISCOM is facing a financial crisis. Mahadiscom is already having a loan of Rs 21,000 crore. This additional burden of interest will lead to the power tariff hike,” he said.
He also demanded clarification from the central government about the rate of interest, mode and time limit for the repayment of these loans from PFC and REC.
“The central government, instead of giving loans to state power distribution companies, should include the power sector into the essential commodity sector under the National Disaster Relief fund and should pay an interest free Rs 5,000 crore assistance immediately,’’ he demanded.
“The Mahadiscom has suffered a loss of Rs 7,200 crore in the last two months. Only 40 per cent power bills have been recovered in April and recovery for May is expected to be 25 per cent. The condition is very serious and the state government does not have money to pay salaries. If we get the financial support in the form of financial grant in aid or interest free loan, then only we can purchase power and pay salaries and allowances of employees,” he stressed.